(EXCERPT) Ralph Winter and Terry Botwick’s 1019 Entertainment are heading to ancient Rome and teaming with former Major League Baseball player Mike Piazza to produce “Constantine.”
David Franzoni, a producer and screenwriter on “Gladiator,” has written the screenplay, which centers around the complicated power struggle between rival claimants to the empire after the death of Galerius in 311 A.D. Under his reign, Rome’s capital was moved to the newly named Constantinople as he attempted to unite his empire through the spread of Christian doctrine.
“Constantine” will be produced by Winter, Botwick and Piazza. Tom Allen will exec produce. Franzoni said the emperor carries similarities to Russell Crowe’s Maximus character in “Gladiator.”
GET THE FULL STORY HERE: Piazza takes swing at ancient Rome | Variety.
Variety Magazine hosted a high-powered summit this past Thursday in LA which, surprisingly, was all about Family Entertainment and Faith-based films and programming. Of course, we at W4F have our fingers pressed firmly against the industry pulse (not usually in a strangulation way) so we knew about this event, I dunno, two to three months…is that the right word? ’Months’? Hold on. No, the word I’m looking for is ‘days’…yes we knew about this event days before it took place. Possibly hours.
But it was a big one. Lots of big wigs in attendance and presenting:
Dick Rolfe, Co-Founder & CEO, The Dove Foundation
Ben Howard, Co-Founder, Provident Films
Simon Swart, EVP & GM, Fox Home Entertainment
Darren Melameth, VP, Crown Media Family Networks(Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movie Channel)
Brad Siegel, Vice Chairman, GMC TV
Dale Ardizzone, COO, The Inspiration Networks
Richard Ingber, President, Worldwide Marketing, Alcon Entertainment
Greg Liberman, President & CEO, Spark Networks
Rio Cyrus, SVP, Marketing, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Arleen Lopez, Project Manager, Faith Marketing (Gril in Progress), Pantelion Films
Brian Bird, Partner, Believe Pictures
John Shepherd, President, Mpower Pictures
Ted Baehr, Founder and Publisher, Movieguide
Michael Van Dyck, Agent, Paradigm Talent Agency
Rich Peluso, VP, Affirm Films, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Jon Erwin, Director, October Baby
Kenn Viselmann, Founder, Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Company & Producer/Creator, The Oogieloves
Charlie Ebersol, Co-Founder, The Hochberg Ebersol Company (THE Company)/Executive Producer, The Moment on USA Network
James Ackerman, President & CEO, The Documentary Channel
Brian Wells, Co-Founder, Flashlight Entertainment
Ralph Winter, Producer, X-Men:Wolverine, X-Men: The Last Stand
Corbin Bernsen, Actor/Producer (Psych, The Big Year)
Dean Batali, Producer & Writer, That 70′s Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Chonda Pierce’s This Ain’t Prettyville)
Lori McCreary, Producer (Invictus, The Magic of Belle Island)
Jason Carbone, Executive Producer (Tia and Tamera, Beverly’s Full House)
I know, right? How did we not hear about this? And with all those big brains in the same room, what did they do? Discuss a moratorium on End-times movies? Plan an intervention on Mel Gibson? Watch Sherwood Pictures and Tyler Perry print their own money? Did they even settle whether the wafer or the bread loaf was the proper sacremental depiction on film?
Nope. None of that.
Here’s some things they did discuss, from Variety…
[Mark] Burnett enthusiastically spoke of his passion for ["The Bible"] project, a 10-hour epic to air on cabler History next spring. He echoed the sentiment of many panelists at the daylong gathering at the Sofitel Hotel in emphasizing the huge, often untapped potential of faith-based productions.
However, Burnett also emphasized that bringing “Bible” to the screen has transcended business concerns for his company. His wife, thesp Roma Downey, has been on location in Morocco for weeks working as a producer and thesp on the project.
“I couldn’t give a shit about the business model,” Burnett said. “This was about love and faith.”
Ahem, Mr. Burnett. Puh-LEASE! We do not use such vulgar words in Christian circles such as “Business Model”. In fact, most Christian filmmakers don’t give a shipoopi about the business side of production. Profits? Pssht? Marketing costs? Ha! Investors? Please! More like Donors! Awesome Academy award winning actors? Naw, we got my Aunt Sally who teaches 2nd Grade Sunday school. And her co-star is this dude who was awesome in, like, this 1970 sitcom. And we’re shooting on MiniDV with a script my Dentist wrote. Why isn’t anyone buying my DVD?
End Scene. End Rant.
Anyway, back to the Family Faith-based Summity shmorgasbord thingie. John Kennedy from Beliefnet actually got to attend and had a great wrap-up here.
Dick Rolfe distributed the Dove Foundation’s 2012 Film Profitability Study which examined film box office results from 2005 through 2009. The report found that of the 1000 most-widely-distributed film during that time frame, 376 (38%) were rated R, 412 (41%) were PG-13, 178 (18%) were PG and only 34 (3%) were rated G. During the same period, G-rated movies averaged profits of 108.5 million dollars with PG films averaging 65.5 million in plus-side revenues. PG-13 film, meanwhile, averaged 59.7 million in profits. Bringing up the rear were R-rated movies with average profits of about 12.7 million.
So, the study points out, Hollywood released 11 times more R-rated movies than G-rated movies from 2005 through 2009 — yet the averaged G-rated film produced over eight times the profit of its R-rated counterpart. As the report notes, the market for G-rated fare seems far from saturated.
The Dove Foundation, as you may know, also awards its seal of approval to films that support positive human values. The report notes that, during the period covered, Dove-approved films were 2.5 times more profitable as film that failed to meet it human values criteria. Dove-approved PG films were 2.8 times more profitable than other PG films. Dove-approved PG-13 films, meanwhile, were 1 3/4 times as profitable as non Dove-approved films with the same rating.
The bottom line appears to be that audiences prefer movies that support traditional values (i.e. faith, family, kindness, forgiveness, gratitude) to those that ignore them or even treat them with ridicule and contempt.
Kennedy gives a good synopsis of who spoke to what points, we only hope he’ll come back and share some of the golden mcnuggets of wisdom that were shared along the way.
You’re in L.A. running an errand. You’re downtown in one of the big buildings, possibly to deliver your darling beloved script to a Reader who is a friend of a friend of an aunt’s second cousin twice removed. You step into the elevator to ride up to the top. The door’s about to close when you hear, “Hold the elevator!” So you do.
Low and behold, who should step into your world all of a sudden but J.J. Abrams. Or Tom Hanks or Jerry Bruckheimer or Brian Grazer or The Ralph Winter. (Those are all big-time Hollywood Producers whose names you should at least recognize, btdubs…and if it’s The Ralph Winter, well he actually, physically glows like Xanadu so you have to shield your eyes a bit).
Anyway, you hold the elevator, they step inside very grateful. As they wrap up their phone call, you hear them complaining about the “same old tired, worn out stories” from the same “tired, worn out studio hacks” and how they wish they could find a darling little script to Produce. After they hang up, they notice the script you’re clutching in your sweaty palms. Then the second miracle happens.
“What’s your script about?” they ask, turning toward you, generally interested.
Based on the speed of the elevator and frequency of the stops. You realize you’ve got less than 60 seconds. 60 seconds to communicate your darling beloved to a perfect stranger. 60 seconds to win them over.
This is called the elevator pitch. And every writer should have one for their script. If someone asks what your story is about, you should be able to push the play button on your iBrain and spew 60 seconds of verbally interesting wonderfulness that gives a very clear picture of your story and makes the person want to know more.
If you’ve finished your script before you have a decent elevator pitch, then you’re writing backwards. Because every script begins with a pitch that we call a Logline. A Logline is 2 or 3 sentences long or less and answers 3 vital pieces of information.
1. Who is your main character?
2. What is the problem they face?
3. What are the dramatic stakes?
Interestingly enough, these three things you HAVE to know before you start writing your script. More on that later, but these are the 3 story anchors. For example, try this on for size:
A boy bonds with an extraterrestrial who’s been stranded on earth; the boy defies the adults to help the alien contact his mothership so he can go home.
That’s the logline for E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. It’s also kinda the logline for Super 8, but I digress. Let’s look again at our questions:
1. Who is the main character? A boy (Elliot)
2. What is the problem they face? Found an alien that can’t get home, hunted by Adults
3. What are the dramatic stakes? Get the Alien home before the Adults close in
Loglines are a screenwriter’s necessity. They’re a great exercise and they keep you narratively nimble. It’s a good idea to jot 2 or 3 of them down every day. As a class exercise, I would always have my students come up with 20 or 30 loglines.
It’s an interesting exercise because most of us can rattle off 8 to 10 ideas that we’ve been thinking of for years. But you get past 10 and you start having to dig deeper. Past 20 and you’re straining brain muscles you haven’t strained in YEARS.
Back to the students, what I also found was that the first 5 or 10 loglines were just lame rehashes of whatever top 10 films were in the box office at the time. They were all about Vampires, Gangsters, Superheros, Serial Killers, Zombies…every single writing cliche you could find. But the further down the list I got, the more personal and interesting their stories became.
Professionals talk about cranking out 100 loglines just to get to maybe one decent one. As you look over your loglines, you may find that a couple of them have similar themes and on their own, they may only represent half a good idea, but by combining two of your loglines, you come up with a really good story idea.
Now that we’ve gotten through our first week of Screenwriting in August, I think it’s time for your first quiz. It’s a logline quiz. Identify the following films by their loglines. No cheating, keep your eyes on your own paper, and no Googling! (Answers to follow tomorrow!)
POPULAR LOG LINES QUIZ
__________In 1984, the USSR’s best submarine captain in their newest sub violates orders and heads for the USA. Is he trying to defect, or to start a war?
__________Bob Munro and his dysfunctional family rent an RV for a road trip to the Colorado Rockies, where they ultimately have to contend with a bizarre community of campers
__________A group of Earth children help a stranded alien botanist return home.
__________Two men who keep an eye on aliens in New York City must try to save the world after the aliens threaten to blow it up.
__________A best man stays on as a houseguest with the newlyweds, much to the couple’s annoyance.
__________The cross-country adventures of two good-hearted but incredibly stupid friends
__________An ambitious ex-con and his ten accomplices plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.
__________A workaholic architect finds a universal remote that allows him to fast-forward and rewind to different parts of his life. Complications arise when the remote starts to overrule his choices.
__________A dysfunctional family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.
__________When a regular guy dumps a superhero because of her neediness, she uses her powers to make his life a living hell,
__________Berated all his life by those around him, a Friar follows his dream and dons a mask to moonlight as a “Luchador” (wrestler)
__________On New Year’s Eve, a luxury ocean liner capsizes after being swamped by a rogue wave. The survivors are left to fight for survival as they attempt to escape the sinking ship.
Answers are HERE.
Did you feel the earth move on Saturday? Me neither. Prolly cause I’m wayyyyyy out on the East Coast. But from the sounds of things, the Biola Media Conference had a massive impact on attendees and speakers alike. As usual at Wired4Film, we’ve plumbed the news and gossip wires and pulled feedback from blogs and tweets and twubs and Facebook…I know, I know…I had you at Twub.
Anyway, let’s hop into the mind of Phil Cooke and peek through his eyes for a moment as he observes on his blog (PhilCooke.com):
Short of receiving the final numbers, it appears this weekend’s Biola Media Conference was the best yet. Great speakers, fantastic attendance (even in this financial crisis), fabulous sponsors, and a great program all added up to a really eventful day. Co-director’s Kathleen Cooke and Peggy Rupple did a remarkable job organizing the event. We started out with an incredible performance from the “Groovaloos,” who won this year’s Superstars of Dance competition. Then I interviewed Mark Zoradi – President of the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group. After a 29 year career at Disney, rising to the top of the industry, Mark had a lot to say about his personal faith, his commitment to excellence, the Disney brand, and advice for others in the industry. Memorable quote: “Always over-deliver. If you consistently over-deliver in your work and expectations, people will want you on their team.”
Then we had a talent panel led by Kim Dorr, that explored how important the talent factor is in putting projects together. Writer and actress Susan Issacs sent us to lunch with a sobering and challenging thought: “So many people are “called” to Hollywood, but what if God called you there for only 3 good years out of 30? What if you had to struggle 27 of the 30 years? Would you still go?”
We broke up into numerous workshops on issues like legal, marketing, new media, alternative financing, ethics and ambition, and more. Memorable quote: When an attendee asked that as a Christian, is Ralph Winter (Producer of X-Men) films, concerned about the violence in his films? Ralph replied, “There’s no question that Wolverine has claws and uses them, but ultimately, I’m not as worried that God is pleased with my movies, as I am that God is pleased with me.”
When pressed further about that last comment, Ralph Winter explains: “It is more about who we are becoming on the journey of life. That is what journey of faith is about in following Christ.”
He also added, “The Biola Conference was great. Our seminars were well attended, lots of comments on my page. Probably the largest conference ever for Biola. And Joe E. was terrific – an inspiring message.”
Cooke filled in a few more details on the mysteriously inspirational Joe E.
In the afternoon, our keynote speaker was Joe Eszterhas, legendary Hollywood Animal (as his biography states), who has written films like Jade, Sliver, Flashdance, and Basic Instinct. He was paid $3 million for the script to Basic Instinct, and his movies have made more than a billion dollars at the box office. Joe smoked hard, drank hard, and lived hard. But in 2001, after a battle with throat cancer, he experienced a powerful encounter with God, and it transformed his life. His talk was frank, honest, rough, filled with grace, and brilliant. During my interview afterwards, he was very vulnerable and human. He shared from his heart on the change in his life, how it impacted his marriage and family, and how it has impacted his perception in the industry. He also gave us some great advice. Memorable quote: “If you’re a writer, protect your vision. Don’t be too quick to let others change your work. Fight for it. It all starts with you.”
Along the way, a handful of those on the inside were Twittering away to keep those of us on the outside, in the loop. Here now are this year’s Top 17 Tweets in order of ceremony.
TOP 17 #BMC09 TWEETS
13. larissalamchiu: al kasha award winning compser ”study the word, study the masters” to improve your craft
15. TheGroveCenter: Joe Eszterhas interview, screenwrtiter of Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, 16 films…1billion in sales…from throat cancer to God…wow
Thanks all for the comments and feedback!
For those who want to learn more about this crazy little thing called Twitter: http://tinyurl.com/c5ep92
(SEP 01, 2007) Troy Anderson of Charisma Magazine writes about some recent trends inside and outside Hollywood for Faith-based, family friendly films.
(EXCERPT) As a new generation picks up the mantle to help redeem Hollywood, [Ken] Wales says filmmakers should focus first on telling compelling, first-rate stories.
“I’m a real big fan of telling the great story,” says Wales, also a University of Southern California film professor. “The three most important parts of filmmaking are story, story and story, no matter how much technology improves.”
(JAN 25, 2004) Read full article Passion Changes Everything by Ralph Winter (Producer, X-Men) & Mark Joseph on www.NationalReview.com.
(EXCERPT) We are hearing anecdotal evidence from around the country that a massive audience is developing for The Passion of the Christ consisting of, in some cases, traditionalist Christians who have not been to a theater in decades.
Why? Because for the first time in history and in a manner and scale only hinted at by films like The Omega Code and Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie, a film has finally emerged that has five key ingredients: Star power, mainstream credibility, controversy, wide simultaneous release and deep resonance with traditionalist Christians.